If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?
To not only look for the image but to listen for it … to hear it and feel it and let it reveal itself.
Why do you prefer black and white photography?
Black & white, for me, is an extension of language, and not only of language, but of language at its most articulate. In short I love black & white for the way it allows for the consideration of things well below the surface, for those things often hidden in the quiet places in our hearts and minds.
Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Seeing Sugiomoto’s: “7 Days / 7 Nights” at the Gagosian Gallery in 2008, with seven being displayed in the lit half of the gallery, and the remaining seven on the other side of a wall in darkness … changed me forever. Nothing I’ve ever encountered has ever proven more articulate in defining my sense of life. From Henri Cartier-Bresson I came to love the tableau of daily life, and from Sally Mann, I found the exact kind of resonance I feel when I am out alone in empty spaces.
These three allow for a fairly accurate triangulation of where my work comes from. And, in all of these, I find the same kind of haunted quality that I believe runs through my best work.
What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?
To answer you accurately would take a wealth of space, so I will give you a thumbnail of what has affected me the most powerfully. For me, it begins and ends in language– in prose to a degree but more emphatically in poetry. My loves here are countless, but the critical nexus of them would be: 1. Emily Dickinson 2. William Butler Yeats 3. The confluence of Georg Trakl, Fredereich Holderlin and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Apart from poetry, it is impossible to ignore the fact that I am guided by the Romantic View Of Literature as a foundation for my sense of life. My artistic vision, as a result, is focused on the: “What Could Be” and “What Ought To Be” even as it is grounded in the “What Is”. In summary, my work and my life is defined with and driven by the humanities.
What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?
Embrace the tools that allow you to arrive at being able to realize the fullest measure of what you want your image to be and then to do whatever you need technically or in post to achieve it. Learn the rules, and be willing to break them if your creative vision compels you to!
How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?
I purposely forgo the definition of “fine art.” It is the fact that it IS art that matters to me. The greatest art, for me, has always been the purest, most uncompromised expression of any individual’s vision as well as their intent; in short, my only prerequisite for great art is that it be without guile, and it should reject the need to be anything other than what it wants to express.
If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?
Define your photography on your own terms. If your art isn’t what you want it to be, it really isn’t yours.
What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing?
The benefits are obvious. The potential downside is that trying to be everywhere, everyday, for everyone, is a recipe for both fatigue and a loss of inspiration.
Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?
I prize Google Plus for it’s community, which is the kindest and most engaged, and yet I maintain a soft spot in my heart for Flickr because it’s where I started. I tend to like the platforms where you don’t get the feeling that it’s a competition for whose images get seen and commented on the most.
What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most?
If it’s dogmatic, it’s already wrong.
If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?
- The Cure: Disintegration
- The Cure: Faith
- The National: High Violet
- The National: Boxer
- The National: Trouble Will Find Me
- Trembling Blue Stars: Her Handwriting
- My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
- The Arcade Fire: Funeral
- Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts Of The Great Highway
- Antonin Dvorak: The Slavonic Dances
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
To marshal all my creativity into a coherent, connected, and hopefully, enduring body of work.
Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
- Tokyo — For The Streets and the Neon
- The Badlands — Because there is beauty in emptiness beneath the sky
- Manhattan — Not just to visit, but to live, because there is beauty in scale and grand imaginings.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
I am incredibly indebted to every single person who has either made the art that inspired me or been inspired by my work and said so. Especially those who found courage, comfort or sustenance as a result.
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